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Cyclocross and Gravelbiking (Recreational) This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like : "Unbound Gravel". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

Older CX vs new Gravel bike

Old 04-16-21, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Ah, location = Paris. Got it.

Here's what gravel riding looks like here in Illinois:

40 miles west of Chicago, you can easily do 100 miles of roads like this and rarely touch pavement. Gravel events here are on roads like you see here. I suspect this is not the case in Paris. This is the context of my comments.
Please share this route! I'm in Chicago and that looks awesome.
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Old 04-16-21, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Here's what gravel riding looks like here in Illinois:
40 miles west of Chicago, you can easily do 100 miles of roads like this and rarely touch pavement.
Originally Posted by msu2001la
Please share this route! I'm in Chicago and that looks awesome.
I thought the same thing, I was going to PM Hiro but this kills 2 birds if you have a RWGPS or something similar you can share.
Ill be in the burbs in a few weeks and am always looking for a good route that I can do a day ride on.
Grew up in the north suburbs and now visit the west/southwest suburbs multiple times a year, so I mostly end up riding in those areas on crushed stone trails since I usually ride from where we stay. Those routes are fine and all, but ive been thinking about instead just driving 20min to the outer rim and starting some gravel road rides from there instead.
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Old 04-16-21, 02:01 PM
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The picture above is from "The 10,000", a ride run by the Freeport Bicycle Co. In fairness, it's a bit more than 40 miles away:
https://ridespot.org/rides/160370?fb...YDNlTJDgnCzRts

Closer to home, there are many similar and great gravel routes out past the Fox River. Bike shops like Pedal and Spoke in North Aurora, All Spoked Up in Aurora etc host various gravel events frequently. For example, Pedal and Spoke has weekly rides and big events like Pastry-Brest-Pastry (PBP).
Here's an example route from the 2016 PBP:
https://ridewithgps.com/routes/13274434?lang=en

A bunch of friends did The Rapha Day in Hell ride last weekend in the area.

A few miles further out, there's tons of good gravel in the Waterman, IL area like this one: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/16525941

If you're willing to consider the limestone paths as "gravel", that's a whole world out here. My friends and I have created all kinds of routes cross linking paths here in the western burbs.
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Old 04-16-21, 03:06 PM
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[QUOTE=Hiro11;22017894
If you're willing to consider the limestone paths as "gravel", that's a whole world out here. My friends and I have created all kinds of routes cross linking paths here in the western burbs.[/QUOTE]
thanks for posting up some links. We stay in the Burr Ridge/Waterfall Glen area so I usually end up connecting the crushed stone paths and paved trails together around the western and southwestern towns. I did route myself down south of Joliet once to the Midewin Tall Grass area which was cool, but besides that its been suburb riding each time.
Ill for sure check out the RWGPS links in detail.
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Old 04-16-21, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
I did route myself down south of Joliet once to the Midewin Tall Grass area which was cool, but besides that its been suburb riding each time.
Ill for sure check out the RWGPS links in detail.
Yeah, the Wauponsee Glacial Trail is awesome. I once did a century with some friends from Palos all the way down to the Kankakee river and back. There's some good road riding down in that area as well.

There's a large gravel scene out here in the western suburbs. The pandemic has both killed the bigger events and turbo-charged the smaller groups and self-guided stuff. It's not tough to find a good gravel ride most weekends if you know the bike shop guys out here.
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Old 04-21-21, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Cross bikes are generally very racy and stripped down with twitchy handling and aggressive positions. Gravel bikes are generally touring-bike relaxed, have tons of bosses for mounting stuff, have much more stability and offer more upright positions.
I appreciate you pointing out that cyclocross and gravel are very different* but seeing people all over the internet saying cross bikes have “twitchy handling and aggressive positions” is slowly driving me insane. The selling point for cyclocross bikes, for years, was the nice stable handling and more upright position compared to road bikes. Cyclocross geometry and fit hasn’t changed a whole lot in the years since then and you typically see head angles ranging from 70-72 degrees. Not that different from gravel bikes! If anything, it’s become more common in the last few years for manufacturers to slacken out their CX geometry to be a bit more similar to gravel bikes and even modern MTBs. The original gravel bikes were basically CX bikes with a lowered bottom bracket. You now also see the wheelbase stretching out on a lot of gravel bikes (but also on some CX bikes!). But it’s not like CX bikes have become wild and twitchy in response.

*fun fact, some of the early gravel races, such as Southern Cross, were billed essentially as “endurance cyclocross,” which is kind of a contradiction in terms but nicely illustrates how the progression to modern gravel bikes actually happened.
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Old 04-22-21, 04:25 AM
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Originally Posted by grolby
I appreciate you pointing out that cyclocross and gravel are very different* but seeing people all over the internet saying cross bikes have “twitchy handling and aggressive positions” is slowly driving me insane. The selling point for cyclocross bikes, for years, was the nice stable handling and more upright position compared to road bikes. Cyclocross geometry and fit hasn’t changed a whole lot in the years since then and you typically see head angles ranging from 70-72 degrees. Not that different from gravel bikes! If anything, it’s become more common in the last few years for manufacturers to slacken out their CX geometry to be a bit more similar to gravel bikes and even modern MTBs. The original gravel bikes were basically CX bikes with a lowered bottom bracket. You now also see the wheelbase stretching out on a lot of gravel bikes (but also on some CX bikes!). But it’s not like CX bikes have become wild and twitchy in response.

*fun fact, some of the early gravel races, such as Southern Cross, were billed essentially as “endurance cyclocross,” which is kind of a contradiction in terms but nicely illustrates how the progression to modern gravel bikes actually happened.
Thank you.

It's driving me insane as well.
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Old 11-16-23, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
Usually older CX bikes had relatively small tires because the people that designed them were silly. And the UCI didn't allow bigger tires for CX pros.

This continued until well after it became obvious that gravel bikes that took larger tires were in demand. More demand than CX bikes, in particular.
No, they weren’t silly. CX tires were narrow because CX was invented by road racers trying to keep fit in the off season with their road bikes. The UCI set the 33mm standard because CX is a discipline that was an outgrowth of traditional road racing.
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Old 11-16-23, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by FML123
No, they weren’t silly. CX tires were narrow because CX was invented by road racers trying to keep fit in the off season with their road bikes. The UCI set the 33mm standard because CX is a discipline that was an outgrowth of traditional road racing.
thanks for clearing this up, I had spent 32 months worried that nobody would correct unterhausen.***
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Old 11-16-23, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr
thanks for clearing this up, I had spent 32 months worried that nobody would correct unterhausen.***
You’re welcome.
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Old 11-16-23, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by FML123
You’re welcome.
I think someone mistook bottom bracket height with bottom bracket drop in a thread from 2013. You should resurrect it and correct them.
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Old 11-17-23, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by FML123
No, they weren’t silly. CX tires were narrow because CX was invented by road racers trying to keep fit in the off season with their road bikes. The UCI set the 33mm standard because CX is a discipline that was an outgrowth of traditional road racing.
You dug up a 2+yo thread to scold someone? Good job. 🙄
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Old 11-20-23, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by msu2001la
CX bikes generally have lots of extra room for mud clearance, so most frames can fit tires larger than 33mm.
I'd say the biggest difference is rim vs disc, and CX geometry being a bit more "racy".
I have Marathon Plus Tour 45's on my Bianchi Axis.
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Old 11-21-23, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by bamacrazy
I have Marathon Plus Tour 45's on my Bianchi Axis.
How is the clearance with the 45s? I have an '03 Bianchi Cross Concept and I think 35mm is about as wide as I would go with adequate clearance at the chain stay. I think the Axis was generally a little more generous and versatile thought that may have varied though the years.
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Old 11-21-23, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by WAID
How is the clearance with the 45s? I have an '03 Bianchi Cross Concept and I think 35mm is about as wide as I would go with adequate clearance at the chain stay. I think the Axis was generally a little more generous and versatile thought that may have varied though the years.
They fit fine. Bike is at shop currently, or I would post pictures. I'll post when I get it home. The Axis in my bio is an 87 which I no longer own.
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Old 11-21-23, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by FML123
No, they weren’t silly. CX tires were narrow because CX was invented by road racers trying to keep fit in the off season with their road bikes. The UCI set the 33mm standard because CX is a discipline that was an outgrowth of traditional road racing.
This is ahistorical. Pro CX racers were wisely using bigger and bigger tires so they could win CX races, and the UCI clamped down on it. Racers really don't gas about tradition or where the sport came from, they want to win. The UCI might have been mired in tradition, doesn't make my point wrong in the least. And manufacturers that wanted to sell bike to real people, and not racers, should have given their bikes bigger clearances. I know someone that has a Ritchey cross bike, which would be crap in a CX race due to the weight. It barely clears 33 in the back. It's simply ridiculous that a bike that was only sold to non-pros was built to specs that only mattered to pros. Amateur CX racers could use more reasonably sized tires, since only the UCI cared.
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Old 11-24-23, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
This is ahistorical. Pro CX racers were wisely using bigger and bigger tires so they could win CX races, and the UCI clamped down on it. Racers really don't gas about tradition or where the sport came from, they want to win. The UCI might have been mired in tradition, doesn't make my point wrong in the least. And manufacturers that wanted to sell bike to real people, and not racers, should have given their bikes bigger clearances. I know someone that has a Ritchey cross bike, which would be crap in a CX race due to the weight. It barely clears 33 in the back. It's simply ridiculous that a bike that was only sold to non-pros was built to specs that only mattered to pros. Amateur CX racers could use more reasonably sized tires, since only the UCI cared.
I replied to you 2 and half years ago on this point, and I think I made some good points then, but I’ll reiterate and condense them here. First, it’s actually very common for older cyclocross bikes of the time to clear 40 mm tires - I’ve never owned one that didn’t. There are those that are tighter, but they’re more rare and tend to be the high-end bikes marketed at cyclocross racers. Second, a bike from 2010 that won’t fit anything bigger than a 35 seems strange now, in a context where high-quality tires of 40 mm and wider are very common. But at the time it was very unusual to use anything bigger than a 32 with drop bars. High quality wide tires barely existed. A 32 or 35 was, at the time, a big comfy tire! So you absolutely could design a bike around that level of clearance and people would see it as being for “regular people.” You can’t take these bikes out of the context in which they were designed and say they were silly, the idea that you would design a high-end cyclocross bike to fit 42 mm tires is ridiculous in a world where only commuter tires come in that size.

A note on the UCI tire width rule, by the way. When this rule was handed down in 2011, it was NOT the case that racers were in some kind of tire size escalation spiral and that bigger and bigger tires were needed to be competitive. There was already a width limit, set at 35 mm. Within that limit, professionals commonly raced on 32 or 34 mm tires and would select the preferred width depending on course conditions. A wider tire isn’t all upside, there are trade-offs. So the UCI reduced the limit to 33, with the reasoning that this would put less pressure on juniors or less well-financed racers who couldn’t afford to maintain a massive wheel and tire quiver in multiple sizes. Whether this was effective is debatable, but at least from the goal of simplifying tire width selection, it worked immediately. 34 mm tubulars vanished overnight, 32s became very scarce, and 33 became the standard size.

Originally Posted by unterhausen
I know someone that has a Ritchey cross bike, which would be crap in a CX race due to the weight. It barely clears 33 in the back. It's simply ridiculous that a bike that was only sold to non-pros was built to specs that only mattered to pros.
There are so many problems, here. First, I’ve had a couple steel Ritchey cyclocross bikes and they are not crap in a CX race, weight notwithstanding. Second, a Ritchey cyclocross bike that doesn’t really clear a 33 sure sounds to me like a first generation Swiss Cross. A bike that was designed and sold as a cyclocross race bike in the 1990’s, a time when cyclocross racers ran 28 or 30 mm tubular tires, at most. This was a race-focused machine, it wasn’t aimed at “regular people,” it wasn’t meant to be used for bike commuting or touring, or riding gravel, it wasn’t meant to be comfortable. It was built for racing cyclocross, to specs that made perfect sense at the time. Cyclocross racing tires wider than 30 mm didn’t exist. Not being a pro didn’t matter, if you want to race cyclocross you want a cyclocross bike, and the Swiss Cross was a really good one. It doesn’t make sense in 2023, but it was fine in 1998.
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